THE second wave (2016-2020) of the integrated cumulative grade point average (iCGPA) installation has seen the launch and implementation of the assessment system by five pilot higher learning institutions in the country.
Based on the implementation roadmap, Wave 2 introduces undergraduates to 3+1 or 2+2 programmes with off-campus or industry-based learning as well as enhancements in entrepreneurship programmes, especially the practical components.
In the span of almost two years since its launch, there are many challenges encountered by the academicians in the implementation of iCGPA at their universities.
At the iCGPA: Nurturing Holistic, Entrepreneurial and Balanced Graduate International Conference 2017 recently, various topics were discussed, among them, the generation of an iCGPA Spider Web — the score card which enumerates all the achieved, expected or desired performance of a graduate student.
Apart from sessions on constructive alignment in Outcome Based Education (OBE) and Learning Outcomes Assessment, the conference also gave the 300 participants a chance to share the challenges in implementing iCGPA, its impact on graduates’ profile and the way forward.
According to Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM) vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Shahrin Sahib said the intervention from all parties — from academicians to the faculty members — is one of the biggest challenges. UTeM is one of the 20 public universities who are implementing iCGPA in the second wave.
“UTeM has about 12,000 students. We conduct formal learning in the classrooms and non-formal learning through community-based programmes, conferences, seminars, or sports activities.
“Initially, in creating the spider web, we wanted to coordinate both formal and non-formal learning. We hope the iCGPA will be able to indicate the students’ achievement by the end of each semester and ultimately, upon the end of their studies.”
UTP vice-chancellor Datuk Dr Abdul Rahim Hashim, during a plenary session on Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward, spoke on how to implement a framework that is not similar to other universities.
“We are heading towards student-centred learning that complement the approaches that we have agreed into consideration in implementing the iCGPA.
“There are social skills such as communicating and interacting with each other, both verbally and non-verbally — through gestures, body language and our personal appearance — that anyone can assess.
“We need to look at the tools on how we assess, measure and translate their assessment into the transcript so that it will jive into the existing system.
“The challenge for the universities is to improve their delivery system by adding values and variables for the assessment.”
Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) is one of the five public universities that started the pilot iCGPA in September 2015. UMT social research officer Nur Amirah Amiruddin said among the challenges are the readiness of the academicians to change towards a more constructively aligned teaching and learning (T&L) and effective engagement of students during T&L activities. Universities need to ensure valid measurements of students’ learning outcome and have support facilities to implement OBE for a large number of students.
“The ministry should provide all necessary templates and guidelines to ease implementation with continuous awareness campaign to show that iCGPA is for the benefit of the students’ future.
“The lecturers should also be empowered to understand when it comes to choosing the best assessment. Construction of test items, the usage of rubrics and selection of proper sub-attributes are important in ensuring valid measurements of students’ learning outcome,” said Nur Amirah.
She added that UMT has proposed to increase conducive and engaging learning environment through learning space.
Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) deputy vice-chancellor (academic & international) Professor Dr Suhaimi Abdul Talib said the challenging part of implementing iCGPA is answering questions such as: “What do you want the students to learn?”, “Why should they learn?”, “How can you help them learn?”, and “Do you know what they have learned?”.
He said these are the key questions to answer that will help vary the methodology in teaching and learning.
“We should be looking at the changing landscape in our education curriculum in order to train and develop our graduates. When we talk about globalisation, we look into the work force such as working with people of other cultures.
“The moment we know what we want to do, we will start structuring the delivery of our curriculum. And of course, we should have high expectations.
“We can’t simply apply any methodology in our teaching and learning. We also can’t be using a single method to develop multiple attributes nowadays.
“Therefore, we need to prepare students for the future so that they can survive in this world. We can’t prepare students with the curriculum that we have currently,” said Suhaimi.
Based on his own experience, Suhaimi believes that every university needs at least one third of the faculty members to consist of the younger generation because they would know what is more relevant in the education system.
He added that these changes need to be monitored on a regular basis. “We are good at producing many graduates but do we know what they have become?
“We need to monitor in order to make sure iCGPA stays relevant.”
During the plenary session on Issues, Challenges and the Way Forward, Maybank Group chief human capital officer Nora Abd Manaf said there are 90 million job vacancies and there are at least 24 million graduates with technical certificates who were unemployed.
“What does this say? This issue of unemployment is not new to everyone. And what has been done to rectify this? The discussion on this issue has been going on for as long as I can remember but it is a problem that has yet to be solved.
“Let’s focus on purpose. We should be focusing on purpose rather than the medium or channel that we try to build. Then we will get somewhere.
“There is also the need to take ownership of what you do. Because if there is ownership, there is tolerance. You are able to tolerate when mistakes are made. The worst thing that can happen is if the bright minds (such as policy makers) comes out with something, we (academicians and people in the industry) get defensive.
“What’s facing us is a volatile answer and complex ambiguity to describe a multipolar situation. If all of us do not acknowledge this, then we are living on planet Mars. It is very critical right now because the world today is unrecognisable to everyone.
“At Maybank, we don’t want your resume. We told them to talk about themselves but it still didn’t work, hence we introduced Maybank Go Ahead Challenge to hire graduates.
“We look at the social or soft skills to identify the right candidates. We have to understand interdependencies. If we are not changing the culture, we can change the action.
“How do we measure the unmeasurables. We can measure marks and grades but how do we measure values or ethics. We can do it for ages or decades, but if we don’t be careful of what we measure then it won’t leave an impact on the students,” added Nora who said that she is a product of Malaysian education and proud of it.
RELEVANCE OF iCGPA
According to Professor Dr Lee Chai Buan from Berjaya University College of Hospitality, a survey conducted by a university finds that a graduate’s CGPA falls at number 18 in terms of its significance in getting hired upon graduation.
UPSI vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohammad Shatar Sabran said the one factor that will ensure you get a job, apart from a stellar academic transcript, is soft skills. Employers nowadays have different approaches in interviewing fresh graduates.
“For example, one company was looking for an extremely patient employee to work as a sales marketing officer. They called for the interview at 8am, but they purposely locked the door to the office. Only one person waited till the end.
“Little did the candidates know that the interviewers are monitoring them via closed-circuit television. At 1pm, they opened the office door and the man who was still standing there was hired.
“You know why he was hired? Because he has the soft skills, in this case, being patient. Selling a watch costing RM1.3 million requires high patience because many people will often enquire without buying,” he added.
“So, what makes you different from others? The soft skills will make you different from the rest,” said Mohammad Shatar.
He said when sitting for an interview, do not talk about your CGPA. “You have to share something different during the session. The company might hire you if you only told them that you ran a business during your days in campus.”
Lee said iCGPA indicates the potential impact on graduates’ profile based on the learning outcomes as well as their assessment results.
“With iCGPA, we are able to track students’ progress and know the range of employment for them so that they are aware of further educational pathways.
“The contextual factors such as classroom and student characteristics within the university community and how they can affect the learning and teaching process are important. Soft skills may be described as an attribute or subattribute as our rubric.
“What makes a graduate different from you or me is how they choose those attributes and how they applied it in their daily life and context.”